Thomas Newby, hydro photographer, killed in helicopter crash
A helicopter carrying three people on a photo and video shoot for a boating magazine crashed in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, killing two of the people aboard.
The helicopter went down in about 20 feet of water around 10 a.m. about 2 miles off a southwest Florida barrier island, said Paul Dezzi, assistant chief of the Sarasota County Fire Department.
Shortly before the crash, the helicopter was flying close to a boat the crew was videotaping, but it wasn't clear what caused it to go down, sheriff's Lt. Chuck Lesaltato said.
"One witness said the helicopter came close the water and somehow flipped," Lesaltato said. "Debris from the helicopter hit the boat."
Killed were photographer Thomas Newby, 50, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and videographer Mark Copeland, 44, of Raleigh, N.C., according to the sheriff's office.
Pilot Mark A. Watters, 44, of Pasadena, Calif., was in serious condition at a St. Petersburg hospital.
The boat operator and a model aboard the vessel were unhurt. The model, a nurse whose name was not immediately released, jumped in and kept the men afloat as rescue boats from more than half a dozen agencies responded, Dezzi said.
"She dove right there into the fuel and was able to get a couple of guys out," he said. The men were brought ashore on police boats.
Dick Hendricks, executive vice president of Powerboat magazine's parent firm, Maple Grove, Minn.-based Ehlert Publishing Group, said the men were part of a team working on a weeklong series of boat tests.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating.
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